Headline tests complex warfighting plans

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Last year's Headline Experiment examined the Objective Force of Army 2025, with particular reference to the complex warfighting problems thrown up by national and coalition operations in urban terrain.
The Army's Headline 2005 Experiment brought together military personnel from the Land Warfare Development Centre (LWDC) with analysts from DSTO's Land Operations Division at the Army's Experimentation and Warfighting Facility in Puckapunyal to assess the Objective Force of Army 2025 - the Australian Army of the future.

Headline 2005 was the seventh in a series of annual major experiments and ran from November 25 to December 2. The Headline Experiments are designed to inform Army's modernisation process by looking successively at different aspects of the future Army. The aim of Headline 2005 was to develop and validate the Australian Army Experimental Force (EXFOR) 2025 model.

This model will in turn be used in successive experiments, simulations and models to refine the structure and composition of the Army Objective Force 2025 (OF2025). This is intended to embody the concepts inherent in the Hardened and Networked Army (HNA) plan released late last year, and the Chief of Army's Development Intent (CADI) for the OF2025 is unambiguous:

* OF2025 is to be optimised for close combat in complex, predominantly urbanised terrain, as part of a joint inter-agency task force.

* It is to be capable of being adapted to other tasks, up to and including medium-intensity war fighting in a coalition setting, and down to peace support operations and peacetime national tasks.

* All elements of the deployed force are to have access to protected mobility and firepower to enable them to perform their missions without undue risk.

* The capability to apply and access fires (including organic fires and force-level offensive support) is to be devolved to, or accessible to, small teams and individuals across the force.

* All elements in the force are to be provided with devolved situational awareness, including a common relevant operating
* Elements in the combat force are to have a modular, flexible structure that allows rapid regrouping and the development of combined arms outcomes at the small team level.

The Headline 2005 Experiment exploited the Army Experimental Framework (AEF) and made extensive use of simulations to allow the participants to wargame close combat scenarios in urbanised terrain as part of a joint task force.

The EXFOR is the test bed for investigating options for force structure, capability and concepts using experimentation and analytical studies. EXFOR is shaped by interpretation of the Future Land Operational Concept (FLOC), "Complex Warfighting", and other factors, including various CADI statements and input from Army's Future land Warfare Branch.

All versions of EXFOR, however, incorporate key assumptions regarding feasible levels of technology development and its military applications. Over time these assumptions will be subject to detailed analysis and the findings will enable the evolution of EXFOR and Army's understanding of associated capability needs.

The Army's Complex Warfighting FLOC identifies an operating environment shaped by the pervasive and persistent effects of globalisation and US conventional military dominance and in which any force that is not hardened and networked will be both vulnerable and at a considerable operational disadvantage. In a conflict environment riddled with asymmetries land forces will be required to undertake an extremely wide range of tasks simultaneously within the same geographical area, at short notice and in complex, urbanised terrain.

To do this, future land forces must be versatile, agile and able to orchestrate effects in a precise and discriminating fashion. The Army's HNA Plan is the response to the FLOC's demand for "modular, highly educated and skilled forces with a capacity for network-enabled operations, optimised for close combat in combined arms teams. These teams will be small, semi-autonomous and highly networked, incorporating traditional elements of the combined arms team as well as non-traditional elements such as civil affairs, intelligence and psychological warfare capabilities. They will have a capacity for protracted independent operations within a joint interagency framework."

The Headline Experiments are designed to help develop and deliver those forces.

During the two-week Headline 2005, syndicate groups of personnel from the Australian Command and Staff College, RAN, RAAF and Land Command with additional representation from the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, developed and presented recommended changes required to advance our future capabilities.

Highlighting the importance he places on the Army's transformation process, LTGEN Peter Leahy, Chief of the Army, invited his contemporaries from around the world to visit Headline 2005 at Puckapunyal on November 30 and hosted a group of visiting officers from Pakistan, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and China.

The LWDC's Commanding Officer, Experimental Management, LTCOL John Simeoni said that the combined effort between the Army and DSTO had been a successful experience.

"The outcomes from the conduct of military experimentation enable senior decision makers to make informed decisions regarding future capability. DSTO brings to this experimentation a sound scientific process and analysis, which is tempered with the expertise of our military personnel. This strong partnership between DSTO and Army in experimentation has resulted in the Australian Experimental Facility (AEF) delivering results which are highly regarded throughout the Australian Defence Force (ADF) which has resulted in the AEF playing a key role in Army's Modernisation Process," LTCOL Simeoni said.

By Gregor Ferguson, Adelaide
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